“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein
I’m not very well liked by my peers in the computer repair field. Why you ask? Well, aside from my surly, sarcastic attitude, I spend a considerable amount of time trying to educate my customers so that they may do a lot of what we do on their own. My ultimate goal is to put myself out of business and then perhaps Mrs. Lawrence will finally allow me to follow my true dream…..which will not be discussed here. Of course, that will never happen. The vast majority of people really have no desire to learn about computers, even though for many of them, their livelihoods depend upon the machines and associated software. Therefore, I continue to trudge along attempting to keep up with the constant, seemingly daily, changes within the industry. And, if I may say so, it isn’t easy. After a long day at the shop, evenings generally consist of having my nose buried in a laptop researching things. (Note: Said intensive research does not preclude me from making snide comments about whichever show Mrs. Lawrence may be tuned into on the Bravo network.) Between the ridiculous follies of Microsoft, and some highly questionable decisions of certain, ahem (Dell), computer manufacturers, it’s no wonder that people are either unwilling, or incapable of doing simple repairs on their own.
For example, I often get totally unresponsive laptops in the shop. By totally unresponsive, I mean they do nothing when plugged in, and the power button is pressed. The troubleshooting commences with some simple things such as making sure that the power adapter…..blah, blah, blah. (You really don’t care about this techno-babble so let’s move on). Eventually, if the system is deemed “useless” there’s always a very good chance that your data can be recovered simply by removing the hard drive, placing it into our diagnostic machine and saving it to our server for future transfer, either to a new machine, or onto a storage device for the customer. Or., if it’s an actual faulty hard drive, it can be replaced.
Dell manufactures a line of laptops that are relatively inexpensive and therefore somewhat popular. The Inspiron n5050 series.
Somewhere, deep within the bowels of Dell, some evil, sadistic engineer decided that instead of having a removable hard drive compartment on the bottom of the laptop, LIKE MOST NORMAL LAPTOPS, they would instead bury the drive in the guts of the machine. So, instead of removing one or two screws and taking off a cover, LIKE MOST NORMAL LAPTOPS, the entire Dell Inspiron n5050 must be eviscerated before you ever lay eyes on that important, and normally easily replaced, device.
Over the years I’ve found that the general public believes that guys like me know everything there is to know about computers, but if that were true, my head would explode. So, the first time I had to deal with the aforementioned spawn of satan, I was more than slightly perplexed as to why I couldn’t locate the hard drive enclosure. At that point, I did what every other techie in the world does….I asked Mrs.Google for help. (Yes, Google is a woman.) The results of that search for help were truly a low point in my life.
So, without further ado, for all you DIYers out there, the below instructions (WITH PICTURES), as found on-line, will easily guide you through the process of removing a hard drive from the Dell Inspiron n5050.
1. Phillips #00 Screwdiver
2. A Spudger. Huh? WTF is a spudger? Thanks for asking. A spudger is a 5″, anitstatic, nylon tool made to “safely poke and pry just about anything”. Surely there’s one in your tool drawer. If not, get one here.
1. Remove the laptop battery. With the battery towards you, slide the locking clips out. Left clip stays, right clip is spring loaded. Slide battery towards you.
2. Flip the laptop over and open it. Gently press in the 4 retaining tabs along the top of the keyboard with your spudger, one at a time. After the first tab is released, gently lift up on the keyboard so it doesn’t lock again. (My Note: A second spudger comes in handy here.) Finish the other 3 tabs while gently lifting up on the keyboard.
3. Slowly lift the keyboard until you see the data cable. Gently flip the data cable latch away….with what? Your spudger of course. Lift the cable up and out.
4. Close the lid and flip the laptop bottom side up with the battery compartment at the top. (You may now place your spudger to the side). Using your #00 Phillips screwdriver, remove the 11 (yes 11) screws holding the upper case to the lower case. (My Note: don’t lose the screws or you’ll be #00 screwed)
5. Flip the laptop over and open the lid. Remove the 2 screws from the upper case.
6. Now it gets interesting. Gently (there’s that word again) unplug the power cable by lifting up on the dark gray latch. Pull the blue ribbon up. Gently unplug the touchpad cable by lifting up on the dark gray latch. Pull the blue ribbon up.
7. Grab your spudger and insert the flat side between the upper case and side and gently pry up. Work your way around the perimeter of the upper case.
8. Close the lid, flip the laptop over with the bottom side up and the battery on top. Remove the 2 hard drive screws from the bottom of the case.
9. Flip the laptop right side up, open the lid and locate the hard drive. Slide the hard drive to the right to disconnect it from the connector on the motherboard.
Once you’ve done whatever the hell you’re going to do with the hard drive, follow all steps in the reverse order to reassemble. (Gently of course)
I’ve performed this delicate operation numerous times. Each and every time, I invent a new, different and very graphic curse to direct towards Dell.
In the future, I’m inclined to just advise the customer of the benefits and uses of a broken, poorly designed, piece of crap laptop: they make great doorstops or small boat anchors.